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Warhammer 40K: Infamous Renegade Space Marines

6 Minute Read
Feb 24 2023

Renegade Space Marines aren’t always Chaos Space Marines, but all Chaos Space Marines are Renegades. Let me explain…

In the grand scheme of things, Renegade Space Marine Chapters are a relatively small list. Officially, there are only 15 Chapters that are Renegade Space Marines. They aren’t all Chaos Marines either. So what’s the difference?

Renegade Space Marines are Space Marines who have turned their back on the Imperium but have yet to fall to the taint of Chaos, differentiating them from Chaos Space Marines.”

Basically, these Marines have lost their way (or found it depending on who you ask). Perhaps they were isolated from Adeptus Terra. Or maybe their Chaplains were stretched too thin and couldn’t reinforce the Imperial Dogma. Maybe a portion of the Chapter just started to doubt their teachings and started to follow that rabbit hole downward and away from their Chapter’s teachings. Whatever the case, they turned away from their Imperial Duty and have decided to go out on their own.

Badab War Chapter schemes (modern)

Renegade Chapter Background

Freed from the dogma and traditions of their Chapter, Renegade Space Marines fully indulge in their superhuman abilities and warrior minds and are capable of great mayhem.

Most Renegade Space Marines become pirates and brigands, but some may rule over worlds or entire systems, while others may work as mercenaries. Some, like the Soul Drinkers, may still fight the forces of Chaos and even remain loyal to the Emperor but are otherwise free from the Adeptus Terra. However, while Renegade Chapters may initially have little to do with the Gods of Chaos, they will almost inevitably turn to them at some point in order to obtain more power. From this point on, they are doomed to become dreaded Chaos Space Marines.

Badab War Chapter schemes (Rogue Trader)


The largest and perhaps most well-known case of chapters turning Renegade but not immediately towards Chaos is the Badab War. The Renegade Marine forces included four chapters, most of which have attempted penance for their actions while one slipped further into the clutches of Chaos.

Infamous Badab War Renegades

Astral Claws

“The Astral Claws were a Space Marine Chapter who turned Renegade in M41. Their survivors exist as the Red Corsairs, and their Chapter Master, Lufgt Huron, is now the infamous pirate lord Huron Blackheart.”


“The Lamenters are a Space Marine Chapter of Blood Angels descent. Long dogged by misfortune, they sided with the rebel forces during the Badab War, but were granted the Emperor’s forgiveness at the conclusion of that conflict subject to the undertaking of a penitent crusade. That crusade eventually brought the Lamenters directly into the path of Hive Fleet Kraken, bringing the chapter to the brink of extinction.”



“The Executioners are a Space Marine Chapter of Imperial Fists descent. They sided with the rebel forces during the Badab War, but were granted the Emperor’s forgiveness at the conclusion of that conflict.”

Mantis Warriors

“The Mantis Warriors (or Mantis Legion) are a Space Marine Chapter, who sided with the rebel Astral Claws during the Badab War. They were granted the Emperor’s forgiveness at the conclusion of the conflict.”

Distinctive Renegade Marines

Another famous (or infamous) Space Marine Chapter that has since gone Renegade is the Soul Drinkers. Mentioned above, they do still fight against Chaos but they are certainly doing it their own way these days.

Soul Drinkers


The Soul Drinkers do not fit the standard template of Excommunicate Traitoris. Unlike most Renegade Space Marines, who have devoted themselves to the Chaos gods, the Soul Drinkers despise the Ruinous Powers as much if not more than they hate the Imperium that cast them out. Instead, they have developed an ideology that states that the Imperium has betrayed everything the Emperor has stood for; so they still fight the powers of chaos even though they disagree with what the Imperium now stands for.


The Relictors are a Renegade Space Marine Chapter, originally known as the Fire Claws. They are believed to have been created from Ultramarines and Dark Angels gene-seed and were one of the Astartes Praeses Chapters which, according to the ancient tome known as the Mythos Angelica Mortis, were created to guard the Eye of Terror.

They began to both collect and use Chaos relics and weapons in their crusades against Traitor Marine forces. This secret was discovered by the Inquisition during the 13th Black Crusade, resulting in them being declared Excommunicate Traitoris. They were all but destroyed by the Grey Knights under the command of Inquisitor Cyarro. Only a few hundred now remain. These survivors fled to the relative safety of the Eye of Terror.

It is currently unknown whether these survivors have thrown in their lot with the forces of Chaos. Or whether they continue their struggle to turn the dark powers against them for the good of humanity,

Disciples of the Flame

The Disciples of the Flames were a Shattered Legion and Blackshield warband, consisting of Space Marines from various loyalist and traitor Legions who followed Cassian Dracos. The Disciples of the Flames fought for the Imperium during the Horus Heresy, though they were treated with mistrust by other loyalists and declared Renegades by Warden Arkhad of the Blood Angels.

The origins of the Disciples of Flame lie in the mission of the Ebon Drake, originally a cruiser of the Salamanders Legion. After the Drop Site Massacre, the still-ignorant Lord Chaplain Nomus Rhy’tan, overseeing the garrison on Nocturne, dispatched the vessel to investigate what had befallen his Legion. Despite all odds, the Ebon Drake successfully made its way from traitor-held regions and even the Ruinstorm. The ship emerged at the Isstvan system, ready for combat. Instead, it found only the wrecks of past battles, destroyed equipment and corpses. For three days, the Ebon Drake searched for signs of the missing Primarchs, but discovered only a very faint signal, and after digging through rubble discovered a DreadnoughtThey had found Cassian Dracos, former Lord Commander of the Salamanders who had lain buried for a year after the Dropsite Massacre.


The eventual fate of the Disciples of the Flames is not entirely clear. They still fought in the late Horus Heresy. The Ebon Drake was eventually wrecked, and its remains were recovered by Imperials during the Great Scouring. Dracos’ Dreadnought suit was also recovered by the Salamanders, and eventually became known as the Iron Dragon. Considering the beliefs and actions of the Disciples of the Flames dangerous, the Imperium mostly tried to suppress knowledge about the warband’s existence and teachings during the Scouring. All surviving documents penned by Disciples of the Flames were confiscated by the Inquisition, and the Salamanders removed all records of the Ebon Drake and its crew from their own archives.

Learn More of Renegade Chapters


So remember: Renegade Space Marines aren’t always Chaos Marines – but all Chaos Marines are Renegade Space Marines!

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